BEHIND THE SCENES: Learn about the ULM Warhawk mascot and other native birds at the zoo

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MONROE, LA (4/17/20)– That would be the sound of the many different birds that call the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo their home. One of the more famous birds is Capri, who is the ULM Warhawk mascot. Capri is 14 years old and you can find her at every ULM home football game, but she does have a big secret…

“There actually is no such thing as a warhawk, she is a Red Shoulder Hawk. However, if there was one, she would be one,” said Julie Bassett, bird keeper at zoo.

Zoo officials say one of the most interesting things about Capri is that she has really good eyes that help her hunt for her prey.

“So if she was at one end of the football field, she could read the fine print on a newspaper all the way at the other side of the football field,” said Bassett.

The next raptor is smaller than the Red Shoulder Hawk. The native Mississippi Kite is unique from other birds as they have a sharp pointed beak and talons.

“They grab on to their pray and hold it still and then they use this beak to tear the meat into little strips. Then they just toss it back and swallow it little by little,” said Bassett.

Both the Mississippi Kite and the Red Shoulder Hawk respond to verbal commands and can eat off the glove.

“It takes a lot of time to build up trust with these birds. It took me a lot of time to build up that trust with her to where she would come to me with that verbal command,” said Bassett.

The most common owl in Louisiana is the Barred Owl. These owls can hunt in complete dark and rely solely on their hearing.

“An owl with one eye can survive in the wild, but an owl with one ear has more trouble,” said Joe Clawson, Zoo Director.

All the native raptors at the zoo came from rehab where they can’t be released back into the wild due to their survival rate. As you might have seen, the raptors have leather straps on their legs.
These straps do not hurt them, they are there for their protection, not control.

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